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Rhaphiolepis - Growing Guide
These evergreen shrubs are rightly growing in popularity as welcome additions to the woodland garden or shrub border. Apart from their particular attraction to roe deer with us they are trouble free and easy to grow well.
The two principal species to grow are R. indica (‘Indian Hawthorn’) and R. umbellata which come from China, Korea and Japan. They are both bushy, spreading, evergreen shrubs which grow to about 5ft with a similar rounded spread. They do best in a sunny glade in woodland or in full sun in a border and sit happily alongside rhododendrons and azaleas while providing colour and interest in May and June when these are over. The flowers are borne in erect terminal racemes or panicles and are scented.
R. indica has toothed lanceolate leaves 2-3in long and chubby racemes of white flowers tinged with pink in the centre. R. umbellata has stout leathery oval leaves which have a felted grey down when young. The flowers are white and the fruits are blue-black in profusion with us after a hot summer which the birds seem not to like.
R. x delacourii is a hybrid between these two species with rosy-pink flowers and it too is perfectly hardy. Recently Rhaphiolepis has been crossed with eriobotrya and we expect raphiobotrya to be in demand as both a flowering and a foliage shrub. Our first plant of this peculiar bigeneric hybrid goes into the garden here next spring.
Rhaphiolepis can be grown under glass and flower well as young plants in pots. Water and feed well in the growing season and less so in winter.
These plants can be grown fairly easily as semi-ripe new growth cuttings when they have hardened off in late summer. Looking at how these plants grow and spread it might well be easy enough to layer them as well.